What it Really
Takes to be a Trainer
Nowadays it seems as though everybody wants
to be a personal trainer. What are my thoughts on that? More power
to them! The fitness movement is taking off and there is definitely
a demand for high quality information and strategies to improve
athletic ability, physical appearance, and overall good health.
If you think you've got what it takes, then by all means, step up
to the plate! So, what will it take to bring the training industry
to the level of credibility it needs to be at to earn the respect
of our colleagues in the fields of science and medicine? We must
up the anti on the criteria we expect from a stellar training/nutrition
expert and so far the current organizations providing certifications
are simply not cutting it. I will say in fairness that some are
better than others. A CSCS certification from the National Strength
and Conditioning Association does lend more credibility than an
ACE personal trainer certification no doubt. At least they cover
some form of practical application skills during the testing procedure.
My problem is this. I know plenty of eggheads
with a degree who were able to wing their way through just about
any of the current certification procedures who don't possess the
least remnant of a clue about actually training people. Some
of them have never picked up a damn weight in their life (at least
not with proper technique). These newbies are easily identified.
You will see them using a Swiss ball on nearly every exercise their
clients do and saying things like, "if you really want ripped
abs, you must perform at least 50 reps each set and feel the burn".
We send these poor eggheads out into our little universe of trainers
and strength coaches possessing a very false sense of confidence
about their ability to produce top notch training clients. Suddenly
a book is very different than the real world... hmmm, imagine that.
So what do we do to remedy our current
state of affairs in the industry? For starters, I think we need
to define a minimum amount of practical experience one should possess
before they begin commanding the high price tags that some of these
newbies are demanding. Screening the experience of these trainers
would likely be a difficult task, but perhaps if they incorporated
hands-on experience as an intern with a truly qualified trainer
as part of the certification process, the world would be a better
place to live in... uhhh, or at least train in.
Secondly, I see many people being attracted
to the potential income a good trainer or strength coach is able
to command. If your in it solely for the money, do us all a favor
and perhaps consider a more viable career choice. If you are not
truly passionate about being the best at something, you will never
be the best. However, if you have the aptitude and passion for your
work, the money will come in time.
And lastly, I think we should set a defined
body-fat limit for trainers. How in the hell can you be 27% body-fat
and go around telling people how to be in shape or perform optimally
as an athlete? I think some of you (you know who you are) need to
figure out how to get yourself in shape before you can be deemed
as qualified to tell others what it takes to get the most out of
their bodies. Is this a harsh statement? Maybe slightly but not
nearly as harsh as taking peoples' money and leaving them with nothing
but an empty sack of false expectations. Learn to lead by example
for God's sake.
So what are the most important criteria
to assess when seeking a trainer or strength coach for your own
needs? Well, first and foremost I'd say that their track record
should hold more weight than just about any other factor. If the
majority of their clients that have been training with them for
more than a year are still fat and unhealthy looking then it is
probably pretty safe to say that their other credentials are about
as worthless as the twenty bucks Bill Gates found on the ground
while strolling out of his office the other day.
Also, consider the individual's forte.
Some top notch coaches and trainers are multi-talented, but 9 times
out of 10 a distance runner isn't going to be the ideal choice for
learning how to maximize your powerlifting competition totals and
vice-versa. Pick a trainer that excels at what you hope to achieve
in your own training. Theoretical knowledge means nothing without
the experience to back it up.
Training certifications and degrees are
all fine and great, but please for your own good, use them as a
stepping stone to the knowledge one should hope to amass through
hard work, careful observation, and good ol' hands-on experience.
How do you think learning institutions were developed in the first
place? They were initiated by the great thinkers and observationists
throughout time. I assure you Thomas Edison had no degree in electrical
engineering, Henry Ford was never "taught" how to build
the first car in history from scratch, and Alexander Graham Bell
did not have a Masters Degree in telecommunications. Just remember
where all this information came from in the first place before you
go getting to high on your horse about your degree or certification.
Talent, aptitude, passion, and hard work are qualities that cannot